Nitric Acid/Solvent Mixtures-Environmental Health & Safety - Carnegie Mellon University

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Nitric Acid/Solvent Mixtures

A common solution prepared and used in our laboratories involves a mixture of nitric acid and a solvent, typically ethanol or methanol.  The mixture is called “Nital”.  One of the dangerous properties of the mixture is that the reaction between the two materials does not occur immediately. Still, it has led to many, many explosive incidents on campus.  Pressure builds up inside and eventually causes the glass container to shatter and spew the corrosive contents onto lab equipment and often, onto lab workers.  The power is often sufficient to blow out the doors of lab cabinets.  

If you use this mixture, please check out the Nitric Acid fact sheet prepared for its use.

You can also check out an excellent video showing how the delayed Nital reaction works at:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=duJgPnV8ZV8&feature=youtu.be.